Time was of utmost value to Mahatma Gandhi. His day was meticulously scheduled, and every minute counted. A typical day when he was in the Ashram would be like this.
4.00 a.m. Get up from bed
4.20 Morning community prayers
5.00-6.10 Exercise and bath followed by study
6.30-7.00 Women’s education classes followed by prayer
7.00-10.30 Physical labour, activities and chores in the Ashram (latrine cleaning, helping in the kitchen, spinning)
11.15-12 noon Rest
12.00-4.30 p.m. Physical labour, classes
4.30-5.30 Reading, meeting people
5.30-6.00 Evening meal
6.00-7.00 Meeting people
7.30-9.00 Study, correspondence, meeting people
9.00 Go to bed
On Mondays he would maintain silence and complete all his pending work.
Bapu’s trusty personal time-keeper for years was a silver Zenith pocket watch with an alarm function. The watch had been gifted to him by young Indira Gandhi. For a man with few personal possessions this watch became his constant companion. To his great regret, it was stolen from him during a train journey to Kanpur in May 1947. Gandhi wrote in a letter “I may add that the one that was stolen had radium disc as yours has and had also a contrivance for alarm. It was a gift to me. But the cost then was over Rs 40/-. It was a Zenith watch.”
Interestingly, the watch was returned to him six months later by the thief who begged him for forgiveness. Shortly before his death, Gandhi passed on this legendary watch to his granddaughter and assistant, Abha.
The watch subsequently came into the hands of private collectors abroad. In 2009 it came up for auction as part of a lot of the Mahatma’s former belongings including his famous round spectacles, a bowl and dish as well as a pair of leather sandals. It was reported that these were bought by an Indian billionaire and returned to the country of their origin. From the Mahatma to Mallya…how time flies!